The Ford Motor Company Ltd has received clearance from the ad watchdog to continue advertising its All-Electric Explorer model as providing “zero-emissions driving” after an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA, which uses AI to actively search for online ads potentially breaching rules, is intensifying its crackdown on zero-emissions claims.

The investigation into Ford’s advertising was part of this broader initiative, which has recently seen rulings against BMW and MG Motors.

What’s behind the crackdown on misleading emission claims by BMW and MG Motor in the UK

The paid Google ad for Ford’s All-Electric Explorer, seen on 16 August 2023, featured the claim “Zero-emissions driving.” The ASA challenged whether this representation was misleading regarding the vehicle’s environmental impact.

Ford explained that the claim specifically referred to “driving,” not presenting the All-Electric Explorer as a zero-emissions vehicle in absolute terms.

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They emphasised the distinction between “Zero-emissions driving” and an absolute claim like “zero-emissions [vehicle name].” Ford argued that the context of the ad, mentioning features like fast charging and driver assistance tech, made it clear to consumers that the “zero-emissions” claim was specific to driving.

While acknowledging that emissions occur during other aspects of an electric vehicle’s life cycle, the ASA upheld Ford’s claim, noting the immediate follow-up references to charging and technical features in the ad.

The ASA deemed the claim in the specific context unlikely to be interpreted as a comment on the vehicle’s overall life-cycle emissions.

In response to enhance clarity, Ford pledged to amend future ads to state “Zero-emissions while driving.” The ASA took no further action, stating that the ad did not breach rules on misleading advertising, qualification, or environmental claims.

This decision follows the ASA’s proactive approach to scrutinising green claims in the automotive industry, aiming to curb potential instances of greenwashing.